BEHIND THE SCENES: Young Clifton Show president Haydn O’Leary at work getting ready for this year’s 102nd show.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Young Clifton Show president Haydn O’Leary at work getting ready for this year’s 102nd show. Linda Mantova

Cowboys return to show after 20 years

AT JUST 20 years of age, Haydn O'Leary stepped up to the plate in 2011, taking on the role of Clifton Show Society president.

Two years on, Clifton's youngest show president is ticking boxes on his "to do" list for his beloved event.

This year, for the first time in close to 20 years, Clifton is billing a rodeo as its number one entertainment attraction at the 102nd show, which will be held on February 15-17.

We will also be having a young gun bronc ride, a steer ride, poddy calf ride and a mule ride for some of the well-known locals.

Haydn is relishing in his role and during this, his second term at the helm, he has put in place one of his plans - to run a rodeo at the show.

He can vaguely remember going to a rodeo at the Clifton Show when he was a little tacker but that was a long time ago and he believes the rodeo will inject a new vibe into the Saturday night program.

Haydn's move to the president's chair is no surprise when you look at his family history. His father, Terry, has been involved with the Clifton Show for at least 25 years, and both his grandparents, Col and Pat Imhoff, are honorary life members, with Col being the show patron.

"I have been a horse steward at my local show since I was at primary school and I've always loved the show," Haydn said.

"There are plenty of good people in the show movement," he said.

Haydn believes the lack of young people involved in the running of country shows could be about to change, especially out Clifton way.

"We have a new young bloke on our committee, who is 24, and a band of young workers keen to help out with the running of the show," he said.

"However I do think it is a time thing as young people don't have time to devote to committees when they are working full time.

"Traditionally country people made up the fabric of the local show society and less and less young people are staying on the land nowadays."

Haydn himself is a graduate engineer with Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC), after having secured a scholarship with TRC before completing his civil engineering course at the University of Southern Queensland.

He was named Local Young Citizen of the Year in the 2012 Australia Day Awards in Clifton and admitted being show president did take up a fair bit of time, especially in the weeks and months leading up to the event.

"I probably don't do enough the rest of the year," he joked.

"I think this year's show will be a great spectacle as, traditionally, rodeos bring a good crowd."

The rodeo will be conducted by Scott Keogh, of Warwick.

Haydn said the rodeo would consist of an open bull ride, with a prize for the best stock contractor.

"There will be a stock contractors' challenge, with six stock contractors bringing their best four bulls, and we believe it is the first time this has been done," he said.

"We will also be having a young gun bronc ride, a steer ride, poddy calf ride and a mule ride for some of the well-known locals.

"We are approaching four of the local organisations in the Clifton district - polo club, polocrosse club, the Wattles Rugby League Club and the show society - to put forward suitable candidates for the mule ride, which should create a bit of interest."

Mutton busters will also be held for local youngsters, with nominations on the night of the rodeo.

"We are planning some advertising to bring in the crowds, as the Saturday night entertainment also includes a cross-cut saw competition, and the Outback Riders, performing the Man From Snowy River on the main arena," Haydn said.

A keen horseman, Haydn is currently trying to fit in working his three polo ponies before the start of the Downs Polo Club season.

"I have only played one year competitively as I had last year off to concentrate on my studies," he said.

Haydn said he had other big plans for future shows, which included attracting a big name country music star.

"We have been looking at getting a popular artist to perform at the show but that may be down the track - we'll see.

"At the moment, we are just hoping for fine weather and big crowds."

Show time

  •  The 102nd Clifton Show kicks off on Friday, February 15, and runs until Sunday, February 17.
  •  Phone 4697 3102.


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